Friends

Of the billions of people on this earth, we’ve chosen a few along the way to label as “friends.”

Friends come in many forms. Facebook Friends. Best Friends. Close Friends. Great Friends. Sorta Friends. Casual Friends (some with benefits). There are Childhood Friends, High School Friends, College Friends, Work Friends. Think of any of those categories and I’m sure names and faces pop up in your mind. As many as there are different types of people, there are varying degrees of friendship. I put an extremely high value on my friends. Over my six decades, I’ve made a lot of them and stayed in touch with as many as possible along the way.

There are some people who limit the amount of friends, keeping it a core group.  The group of friends they stay in touch with are pretty much it. In my case, I’ve got a ton of really good friends that I see sporadically. It could be several months, it could be years. But those are the people who know, when we get together, it’s as if it had just been moments before and we just pick up where we left off. None of that, “You never called” stuff.

There were the elementary school friends, who I lost track of. The high school friends, which I’ve reconnected with thanks to Facebook. I hit the jackpot with my college friends. I’m hoping at some point, I can do justice to that story and write a screenplay about those crazy days at Terry Hall.  And of course, my incredible collection of radio friends that I have made along the way. There’s a lifetime supply of stories right there.

The one term I have a really hard time with is, “Best Friend.” To single out one person out of all the people I know, I’d probably have to default to the cliché answer, “My wife.”  I don’t really have one person I would call a best friend but that’s because I want it that way. If forced to identify someone outside of my marriage as a Best Friend, I’d probably say, “It’s whichever friend I’m with at the time you ask.”

There are people-watchers. I’m a people-listener. The bottom-line is that everyone has a great story.  Last weekend while chatting with Victoria, somehow I got on the topic of a certain person and suddenly, details started spilling out about their life and their story.  All stuff that could easily end up on the Hallmark Channel. Maybe it’s the writer in me, the story-teller, but it’s the details of people’s lives that simply fascinates me.

If you’re a friend and you’d like to sit around some day and compare life stories, just say when & where. There are actually two people from my past that I would love to have that conversation with and hear how life has gone since the last time we saw each other.  I think we all have people like that. For no other purpose, just for the curiosity of it. Here’s what happened to me, how about you? How was your life? I really doubt these two particular conversations will ever happen, but I’d like to believe they will.

Or maybe, just maybe, that’s what heaven is. Just sitting there, with a friend from long ago, swapping stories, getting answers to your questions, remembering old times. Having their stories trigger more of those long-lost adventures from your memory bank.

For yours truly, that would work. A lot. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.

Family is assigned to you. Your friends are those wonderful bonuses that add so much to our crazy story of life.

To all of my friends, thank you for being a part of my story.

Cheers!

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 137

Got a star-studded Apple Cup version of the Wacky Week Podcast for you this week, including guest appearances from Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Kathi Goertzen, Steve Pool and Ray Ramsey, just to name a few. Just a little of the radio madness I helped contribute to over the years.

Keeping The Thanks Coming

Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.

I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:

Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about  the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.

Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.

Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.

Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger.  Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine.  Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago.  A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.

Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!

My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.

My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.

You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.

Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album.  It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.

Matt Riedy & Frank King–It’s all about opportunity. Back when radio brother-turned-actor Matt was working over at Smooth Jazz, he connected me to a comedian he had worked with, Frank King. Frank used to do stand-up comedy with Jay Leno and had remained connected to him, faxing him jokes each day. Frank invited me to join his White Collar Comedy submission sheet and for most of a decade, I was lucky enough to be able to sell jokes to Jay. The thrill of having him tell a joke that I wrote, word for word, was about the biggest high a comedy writer could experience.

Dwight Perry–This Seattle Times’ lighter side of sports writer has dropped in some of my Wacky Week lines over the years and given me exposure that I wouldn’t otherwise receive, being off the air. As recently as last Sunday, a friend said, “Hey, I saw you in the sports page again today!” Thanks for the plugs, Dwight!

Jean Godden & Sherry Grindeland–When both were back in their day writing newspaper columns, they gave me quite a few mentions and let me show off my comedy writing skills to their readership.

You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.

I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.

It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim Hunter

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 132

OK, still reeling from the UW Huskies loss last weekend in the desert to Arizona State University. I’m taking you back to the early 1980s, the last time we beat ASU down there, with Larry Nelson, Bob “the Voice of the Huskies” Rondeau and a cast of several. You’ll hear a KOMO Music promo and a couple of Halloween bits we did at 4th Avenue North.

Wacky Week Podcast EPISODE 131

Not afraid to bare my college soul on this week’s episode. Digging out some classic moments from my days at KCMU at the University of Washington. For a couple of quarters, I did a daily comedy bit called, “Return to Normalcy.”   Don’t remember why I called it that. Cameo’s from friends of long ago, including Gale Ensign and Steve Fimmel.  Basically, I’m putting this out there in the archives so that years from now, someone can ask the question, “Why didn’t they stop this?”

Hey, look at that!

So, I’ve managed to eek out a living somewhere along the line by noticing things, and then twisting them around so that they smack of comedy.

For example, I recently saw a news story that told of a new study that claimed “playing tackle football before the age of 12 could lead to brain issues.”

I don’t know about that. I played before I was 12 and cheese.

You see what I did there? I took the existing story. Looked for how you could twist it–what’s a universal truth?–and I went with, well, duh, you’d get brain damage–and so I thought, since I’m telling the story and I claimed I played before the age of 12–if I HAD brain damage (and the jury’s still out) so I would say something non-sensical, like “cheese”. I could have said walnuts, beans or prunes, but the word, “cheese” stuck in my head. Thanks, Ken Carson.

So, while observing is a key tool in crafting comedy, it’s also true of life. I’m always watching for details and then, when I notice something, I like to take note and pass it along to whoever might benefit from it. If I had traveled down a road with a giant pothole and I knew you were going down that same road, why wouldn’t I warn you? You would enjoy the benefit of my experience and observation and I would hope, some day, you might return the favor.

In the past week, I’ve had three experiences/life lessons that, with the above rule being strictly enforced, I’d like to pass along to you.

The 90-4 Rule Way To Eat–I went in and saw my personal physician, Dr. Brad Shoup, for my annual physical. We were talking about my adopting the Whole30.com approach to eating and he was fine with that, but….he said he was doing the “90-4” eating plan. “What’s that?” I asked and he explained. With an average of 30 meals a month, take four of the meals (like once a week) and eat whatever you want! The rest of the time you’re eating well, which is the majority of the time and, that’s all that matters, right?

Every Day’s Saturday, Except Sunday-A friend of ours who I thought enjoyed the luxury of being retired explained to me one of the realities of being at that stage. Mark these words: “Every day’s Saturday, except Sunday.”  Yes, on paper, that sounds great. Saturday’s P.R. machine has you believing it’s a day of rest, play, something fun, etc.  Well, Ed…..oh, crap, I wasn’t going to mention Kloth’s name…..OH CRAP…..well, the secret’s out…..anyway, Saturdays for the working class is the day after the work week when you have the most ambition to take on the house projects.  Oh, yeah, WE decide what would be nice to do around the house, but a very small amount of the WE population is there when it’s time to tackle those projects.  The moral of this story–when you retire, every day is Saturday….a day when you SHOULD do that home project you’d normally reserve for Saturday. (and that brings us back to, “Doh!”)

Last, But Not Least–This is more of an experience than a lesson. Let’s call it a reminder. So, last Saturday, I emcee’d a Lutefisk Eating Contest at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival down at the Ballard fishing dock.  Before the competition began, I was handed a stack of cards identifying the Lutefisk eaters who would compete. I invited a ‘Staci’ to come up to the stage and next thing you know, I see a woman being carefully lifted up on the stage so she can compete from her wheelchair. Then, the woman who helps here and another woman hop on the stage as fellow contestants.  It turned out it was the woman in the wheelchair, her sister and the woman in the wheelchair’s daughter. The wheelchair bound woman’s daughter was named Grace and when all the slimy dust settled, Grace came in 2nd place. She was out visiting from Ohio, accompanying her mom, Staci, who had visiting Seattle as part of her bucket list. Her sister quietly leaned in towards me during the competition and told me that Staci had been given maybe a year to live. So, coming out to Seattle was a dream and she was living it. It was yet another reminder to savor every day that we’re given on this rock. Tim McGraw has a haunting song, “Live like you were dying” and Staci was doing that through no choice of her own.

So there you have it: a trio of experiences that made me just a little bit smarter that I thought I would share with you. Be in the moment as best you can. Observe things. Did you pick up some life knowledge today? Pass it along. We all do much better playing as a team.

Tim Hunter